‘I hid in the fridge when police arrived’ – deli supervisor at Ermelo butchery

Van Gent confided in the publication and said he is still having difficulties processing the alleged assault even though it has been a month since it happened.

ERMELO – An inspector of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) recently paid Morné van Gent, a deli supervisor at Roots Butchery in town, a visit.

Van Gent was the victim of an alleged assault at the hands of a tactical response unit on the instruction of a female provincial traffic officer.

He told Highvelder in a follow-up interview he was pleasantly surprised by Ipid’s investigating officer’s professionalism towards him.

“Once you’ve seen the negative side of an authoritative member, it can be hard to maintain the faith you once had in them, albeit an independent entity,” Van Gent said.

He said he accompanied the investigator to the scene where the alleged assault had taken place on July 21.

ALSO SEE: VIDEO – Deli supervisor at butchery in Ermelo allegedly assaulted by members of tactical response unit

According to him, the investigator requested a copy of the video, spoke to and took down statements of four witnesses, and requested more information about the incident from them.

In stark contrast, when a contingent of female officers visited the butchery on August 5, the day after Highvelder had published his article, Van Gent said he was terrified and felt compelled to hide in one of the fridges.

Morné van Gent, a deli supervisor at the Roots Butchery. Photo | Wayne van der Walt

He remarked, “I’ll never be able to have my faith in the police restored after what had happened.”

The female officers allegedly informed employees that they were investigating the butchery’s compliance.

When Roots’ floor manager, Eleanor Fourie, asked if they had a book that she should sign after their investigation was completed – as is customary when health inspectors do routine check-ups – they apparently responded that they were conducting investigations at all butcheries in town as part of a Women’s Month initiative.

In addition they allegedly told her there was no specific book required to do so.

ALSO READ: Tactical response unit refutes assault allegations in Ermelo

Van Gent was questioned about whether this may have just been coincidence, but he stated that they had observed the officers pass a nearby butchery and instead go to their other Roots branch in town.

Captain Carla Prinsloo, the Ermelo police’s spokesperson, said, “Van Gent should rest easy knowing that the local police followed a predetermined schedule of events for Women’s Month, and the visitation to the butchery was just one of many other scheduled activities that were carried out.

“Among other things, we went to the short- and long-distance taxi ranks, we visited the Ermelo Mall and the Oak Centre, and we paid a visit to a business that sells food behind the mosque, to make sure they were compliant too,” she stated.

Read the complete article in the next Highvelder to hear more about the physical and emotional implications the alleged assault had on Van Gent. Highvelder also reached out to Ipid spokesperson, Lizzy Suping.

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